Visit Our Fallen BPD Heroes

History of the Bayonne Police Department

Governor Stuyvesant was the ruling power of Bergen Township among other sections of New Jersey, in the year 1661. Bergen Township included that territory between the present Journal Square and the Kill Van Kull, which separates Bayonne from Staten Island. It was the Governors duty to appoint a Justice of the Peace who was assisted by three constables. The Justice of the Peace affected the operations of the law. The constable was a high officer of state in medieval courts. He was the policeman in the days of Stuyvesant and operated, as did the English constable. The Justice of the Peace heard matters brought to his attention by the constables. Basically, the spirit of these police functions is being carried out today though they have been modernized to fit the times.

Bayonne, as such, was born on April 8, 1861. Prior to that date, the area was known as Bergen Neck, whose appointed Justice of the Peace was a man named Francis Miller. When Bayonne first became independent, part of the governmental plan was to elect a Justice of the Peace. Francis Miller ran for that office and was elected. His duties as director of the three constables continued much the same as prior to his election.

The Bayonne Police Department was born in 1869 in Twomey's Hall, a two-story frame building, which stood at 9 Dodge Street. The police force was created by ordinance on September 6, 1869. Originally appointments consisted of one patrolman from each ward. The first three patrolmen were Thomas Connelly, Jack Van Pelt and Hartman Vreeland. One year later, on September 6, 1870, George B. Whitney was named as Chief of Police of the already formed police department. Four additional patrolmen were named at that time. They were Arthur Cavanaugh, Cornelius Van Horn, Michael Connelly and Michael McNamara.

Several years after its inception the police department abandoned the Dodge Street structure and moved into a two story framed building at Twenty Second Street and Broadway, which was then city hall. Between 1869 and the late 1890s the department acquired room in three fire houses in the city for police sub-stations where patrolman locked up their prisoners until they could be taken to the jail. These stations were located at 50th. Street and Broadway, 7th. Street and Broadway and 22nd. Street and Maiden Lane near the Hook. In 1893 a new city hall was constructed at 30th. Street and Avenue ???E???. The police headquarters and jail were shifted into that building and the former headquarters at 22nd. Street and Broadway was made a precinct station. Centralization of the department was realized in 1905 when the municipal building at 26th. Street was erected and the police force moved in.

On March 18, 1892 an ordinance was passed which provided for assignment of a member of the police force to detective duty. Patrolman Edward M. Griffin was the first detective of the Bayonne Police Department. He was promoted to Sergeant in 1903. The Detective Bureau, under the immediate supervision of the Detective Sergeant, was created by an amendment on October 4, 1910. The same amending order established a branch of the Detective Bureau known as the Bureau of Identification, also under the Detective Sergeant. This arm was charged with keeping records of criminals through utilization of the Bertillion system, fingerprinting methods and photography. In 1917 eight patrolmen were assigned to the Detective Bureau as acting Detectives. As time passed on additional personnel and supervisors were assigned to detective duties as investigative responsibilities increased.

The regulation uniform of the original department included a British style helmet, blue trousers and a blue coat, which extended to slightly below the knees. The officers were also armed and regimented to a schedule. They were assigned to all public functions and their primary duties concerned peace preservation. Whether it was in the days of the Roman warrior, the Indian brave, the English constable or the American policeman, the citizens of all communities relied upon these select groups for protection from wrong-doers. Foot power was the only means of transportation used by the police until the 1890s, when mounted patrolmen and a horse drawn paddy wagon was introduced to the force. Policemen use to walk to the jail, which was also housed in Twomey's Hall. They were often forced to solicit the aid of a passerby in persuading a recalcitrant lawbreaker.

The early days of Bayonne were not free from crime or ordinance infractions. The sworn duty of a policeman was to protect life and property, both public and private, and to uphold laws and ordinances. He was also expected to render certain services. Thefts of barter goods such as corn, wheat and flour and certain farm animals were common. Policemen of this era attempted to prevent such acts whenever possible. Traffic consisted of horses and horse drawn vehicles. Cattle movements through town were also a problem. In this era, Bayonne was sectionalized into Bergen Point, which was the waterfront along First Street; Centerville which was the business section along Avenue C; Pamrapo, the section nearest Jersey City and finally the business section on Cottage Street. Each of these sections created different problems for the police.

With the population on the rise, it became necessary for the police force to grow. The first Chief of Police, resigned after seven years in office and was succeeded by the 43 year old, Hiram Van Buskirk. During this period, one patrolman resigned and six more were appointed. The first ten years of police organization saw eleven Patrolmen and one Chief assigned to the department.

In 1886, John Yore resigned from the police force after serving seven months as a Patrolman. However, he was reappointed in March of 1887, promoted to Sergeant in 1898 and continued as a Sergeant until 1906 at which time he was appointed Chief of Police.

Around 1887, the rank of Roundsman was created in the police department. A Roundsman performed similar duties as the present day police sergeant. His uniform displayed a United States Infantry chevron of two stripes above the point of each elbow. On April 19, 1887 William Hurley was appointed the first Roundsman. It was the roundsman's charge to set good examples of sobriety, discretion, skill and promptness, to the patrolmen under his supervision. He also performed routine patrol duties, which consisted of patrolling the posts in his district and also supervising the patrolmen on their posts in order to insure the faithful performance of duty by these men. Approximately, one year later, the rank of Sergeant was adopted. The first Sergeant was Patrolman Cornelius Van Horn. The Sergeant was then placed in charge of the station house and performed desk duties. The position of Roundsman was discontinued around 1908.

Early in the 1900s, the Gamewell Police Telephone System (police callboxes) was introduced, resulting in the abandonment of the substations, since patrolmen could call the van as soon as they caught a law breaker. These callboxes served the police department until the 1970s. In 1907 the department kept up with the transportation of the times by assigning policemen to bicycle duty to apprehend speeding cyclists. An ordinance on December 21, 1907 also set forth rules for the government and control of the force. Patrolman Martin Kavanaugh was Bayonne's first bicycle policeman.

The first manual containing the rules for the government of the police department was adopted on April 1, 1902. The Chief at that time was John B. McNeil. The police department during that period, consisted of the following ranks: Chief of Police, Captains of Police, Sergeants, Roundsmen and Patrolmen. Original plans called for the city to be divided into two precincts. The Second Precinct included the area from Newark Bay to Avenue D (now Broadway) along the center line of West 21st. Street, south along the center line of Avenue D to the Kill Van Kull, then west along the Kill Van Kull continuing along the shore line of Newark Bay back to the starting point on West 21st. Street. The First Precinct included the remaining territory of Bayonne above West 21st. Street and east of Avenue D.
The police manual set forth qualifications of new appointees to the police department, such as height, age, character and health. Rules of discipline and uniforms were also prescribed. The 1902 manual also designated the procedure for mounted policemen. They were not permitted to ride their horses faster than a walk unless absolutely necessary to do so. They had to dismount frequently to see that the saddle blanket was not wrinkled. The mounted policeman also had to train and care for his horse. The mounted division of the police department was started in the 1890s and discontinued in 1929. Patrolman Dwight Lord was the first mounted Bayonne Police Officer. The motorcycle has been used by the Bayonne Police Department since 1917, when they were first purchased along with the first motorized paddy wagon.

In 1869, the population of Bayonne was 4,000. As mentioned previously, the population increase spurred the need for more policemen since the crime rate and variations of crime increased with the town's growth. With the growing police force came the need for specialization and increased supervision. The original supervisor ranks consisted of a Chief of Police and Sergeants to manage the police force. As the department grew in size and responsibilities, a more formal rank structure was developed.

On January 8, 1908 an ordinance establishing the title of Inspector of Police, then second in command of the department, was instituted. The first Police Inspector was Edward M. Griffin. On July 3, 1912 seven Sergeant positions were created by municipal ordinance. The office of Captain of Detectives and the appointment of seven Lieutenants of Police were created by an amendment on December 3, 1913. The duties of the Detective Captain were designated as those previously performed the Detective Sergeant. While the Lieutenants took over the jobs therefore done by Sergeants. Additional Sergeants were created in 1926. On January 22, 1915 two Lieutenants were elevated to Police Captains. On September 28, 1916 the office of Police Surgeon, with the rank and salary of a Police Lieutenant, was created. The first Police Surgeon was John T. Connelly. On August 28, 1917 six additional Police Lieutenants positions were established. On September 4, 1917 the newly created Director of Public Safety was made the official head of the police force. The first Commissioner or Director of Public Safety was Henry Wilson. On April 19, 1918 a Superintendent of the Bureau of Criminal Investigation was established. This position replaced the Detective Sergeant. The first Superintendent was John J. Rigney. On April 28, 1925 the office of Deputy Chief of Police, designated as second in command of the department was created. The first Deputy Police Chief was Daniel Kilduff. The office of Police Inspector became third in command. This position was abolished in the mid 1970s.

By 1919, the police force consisted of one Chief, one Inspector, two Captains, thirteen Lieutenants, six Detectives and one hundred and ten Patrolmen. Prior to this time, the automobile had replaced the bicycle for mobile patrol. The population by this time was 77,000 and in six years, 1925, the population increased another 14,000 so that by 1926, the city had 91,000 inhabitants. The demands on the police department and necessary services increased very rapidly.

In 1927, another police manual was adopted. The new table of organization included one Chief, one Deputy Chief, one Inspector, Captains, Captain of Detectives, Superintendent of Criminal Identification, Lieutenants, a Detective Sergeant, Sergeants, Detectives, Patrolmen, Police Women and such other officers and employees as may from time to time be appointed. The force now numbered over two hundred men and two policewomen. On January 8, 1924Lillian Hanon was the first female appointed to the department. This position was an investigative duty and the officer did not carry a gun. On April 15, 1925 Margaret Doyle was appointed as a second policewoman. On September 21, 1926 Emily Hassmiller was appointed to replace Officer Hannon, who resigned. In 1933 one female position was discontinued. This left Officer Hassmiller who served with the department until her demise in 1949. Peggy Burt was the last female investigator appointed. She served from 1949 until her retirement in 1976.

In the 1930s more and more motor vehicles were appearing on the public highways. City streets were being improved and it was necessary to enlarge the police mobile force so that it had increased from a mere two patrol car system to a five patrol car system and the Bayonne Police Department now had twenty five motorized vehicles both marked and unmarked. Communications developed through the use of the telephone and radio. Bayonne in 1933 gained prominence by being the first city to use a two-way radio system in police cars. Other municipalities had receiving sets installed in their patrol cars but at that time only Bayonne had patrol cars that could receive and transmit messages. This system had, of course, greatly improved police services and was detrimental to violators of the law. The department received national attention and praise for this significant improvement in police communications.

In 1945 the department had grown to a total strength of 219 personnel.  Its motorized equipment consisted of ten radio cars, seventeen motorcycles, two patrol vans, a police ambulance and several unmarked cars for special assignments. It was also in 1945 that the Juvenile Bureau was established within the department. In 1947 the Police Athletic League headquarters was formed in the Corwin building, located at Twenty Fourth Street and Avenue "A". This building was use for teenage sporting activities until the 1990s. The objective of the PAL was to combat juvenile delinquency through a program of sound recreational activities to develop good character and a sense of responsibility.

In 1962 the authorized strength of the police department was 189 sworn members, Which included one Chief, one Deputy Chief, one Inspector, nine Captains, seventeen Lieutenants and fifteen Sergeants. On April 27, 1962 the department's first indoor pistol range was officially opened. It was located in the sixteen street park. It was built by the officers themselves with financial assistance from the local PBA and local business merchants. In 1964 a new police manual was implemented. It outlined the duties and responsibilities of all members of the department. In addition new specialized units were enhanced, such as the Gambling Squad, Alcohol, Beverage and Control Squad, Narcotics, and the Juvenile Aid Bureau. These units were of great assistance in helping to solve complex problems of that era. The department was also increased from one Inspector to two Inspectors, nine Captains to ten Captains, and fifteen Sergeants to seventeen Sergeants. In addition this was the time period when the police department started to change radically. It was also around this time period that Bayonne was again a first, in its use with police walkie-talkies both to transmit and receive.

In May of 1972 the police department moved out of the old police headquarters, which was built in 1905, into a new modern police command center. The new facility was built between Twenty Seventh and Twenty Eight Street on Avenue C as part of a large municipal service complex. At this time the department consisted of one hundred and ninety four sworn officers, which included one Chief, two Deputy Chiefs, ten Captains, seventeen Lieutenants, seventeen Sergeants, and one hundred and forty seven Police Officers.

In 1982 an in-depth police manual was developed. It not only included duties and responsibilities, rules and regulations and uniform requirements, but it also instituted standard operating procedures and in-service training bulletins that would guide the police officer in performing his duties and keep him or her abreast of changes in the law or department policy.

In 1989 the department started to enter the computer technology age. A computer aided dispatch system was instituted. This technology greatly improved the department's response to call for service capabilities. During this period a complete audit of the agency was conducted to show ways of running the organization more effectively. In the early 1990s as part of a department reorganization project, civilian dispatchers were added to the department to make more sworn officers available for street patrol. The supervisory ranks, as well as the overall number of sworn police officers, were streamlined to make the agency more cost effective. In addition the purchase of computer terminals replaced the typewriter. This state of the art equipment vastly enhanced the department's administrative abilities. As a result of the streamlining process, as well as the increase use of civilian personnel, the total strength of sworn police officers in the department was lowered to one hundred and sixty nine members.

In the mid 1990s, as a result of federal grant monies, civilian employees took over the position of the Police Desk Clerk. In addition more police officers were added to the department to supplement such programs as Community Oriented Policing, Cops in School and Drug Abuse Resistance Education. A new mobile command center, fully equipped with modern communications, was purchased. In addition mobile data terminals were added to the police patrol vehicle. This gave the police officer in the field the ability to process report writing capabilities through the use of the computer. In 1999 a complete audit of the agency was again conducted, in part because of a large increase in sworn personnel. In addition the municipality of Bayonne was entering a period of radical change. The Military Ocean Terminal had closed and in the year 2001. The approximately four hundred and thirty six-acre site would be turned over to the city. Route 169, (changed to Route 440 in 2001) a major highway on the eastside of town was widened and extended to connect directly to the Bayonne Bridge and Staten Island, New York. Commercial establishments were being developed on the new highway. Furthermore a light rail train system was being constructed within the city. This transportation network would connect the city of Bayonne with direct access to other northern New Jersey cities, as well as the financial districts of New York City. Commuter traffic through the municipality was expected to increase dramatically in the coming years. In March of 2002 a new communication center was installed in police headquarters. It included the most advanced technology available for receiving and tracking communications and tracking personnel. It also dispatches fire services as well as police services. There are twenty communication center personnel and one supervisor to man five consoles, rather than three consoles as in the past. In 2003 police sergeants were assigned to the communications center as supervisors. These positive developments required the Bayonne Police Department to change with the times. It is anticipated that the police department will continue to expand as the city itself grows in population and importance to the New York, New Jersey metropolitan area.

Over the years the Bayonne Police Department had developed into a modern law enforcement and service oriented agency. Today's police officer is better trained, better educated and better equipped than his predecessor. New recruits are mandated to complete a seventeen-week Basic Police Training Course. In-service training schools are scheduled for officers as they progress through their career. Computer operation, radar operation, criminal investigation, sex crime investigation, auto theft investigation, missing person investigation, hostage negotiation, evidence collection techniques, crime prevention techniques, community oriented policing and drug abuse resistance education are some examples of the type of in-service training that today's police officer must become proficient at to properly perform his or her duty. Although a college education is not a requirement to become a police officer, approximately fifty percent of today's sworn officers either have a college degree or have attended college courses. Police equipment has been improved significantly since the early sixties. The Bayonne Police Department of the new millennium has well equipped police vehicles, state of the art radios, as well as sophisticated computer systems.

Since the institution of the Bayonne Police Department in September of 1869, over 1,100 officers have been appointed to the organization. Twenty police chiefs have served during this time.

Site disclaimer: The Bayonne Police Department's website was developed to provide general information.
Data contained at this location is generally not reviewed for legal sufficiency.